April 6, 2018 at 1:53 p.m.
WORD OF FAITH

Drink from the cup


By REV. ROGER KARBAN- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

FROM A READING FOR JUNE 10, BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST
'He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many."' - Mark 14:24


Old-timers remember when Sunday's feast was just called "Corpus Christi," the Body of Christ. The Blood of Christ got short shrift.

Before the reforms of Vatican II in the 1960s, laity were forbidden to receive from the cup. Even today, many parishes don't offer the cup to the entire community. Rarely do we hear a homily encouraging people to receive both species - after all, we've learned that if you receive Jesus' body, the blood's automatically there. Besides, we worry, there are germs in the cup!

It's clear from Scripture that our ancestors in the faith would have been appalled at those excuses. In the earliest mention of the Lord's Supper - I Corinthians 11 - Jesus tells His followers, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Drink it and remember me."

These words take us back to our first reading (Exodus 24:3-8). Note what Moses says about the blood sprinkled on the people at the foot of Mt. Sinai: "This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words of His."

Signing the contract
Covenants include signs that the participants have entered into those agreements. Workers and employers have contracts; most married couples wear wedding rings. The outward sign the Israelites had entered the Sinai covenant with Yahweh was the blood on their clothes and skin.

The outward sign Christians have joined Jesus in living up to the covenant He made with His Father is their reception of His blood from the eucharistic cup.

Marcan scholars frequently point out an overlooked part of his Last Supper passage (Mark 14:12-16, 22-26): "[Jesus] took a cup, gave thanks and gave it to them. and they all drank from it."

In Mark's narrative, the last meal Jesus eats with His followers is a Passover supper. In such ritual meals, each participant has a cup of wine; yet, at an important point, Jesus tells His disciples not to drink from those cups. He passes His own cup around the table.

By drinking from Jesus' personal cup, they're demonstrating their determination to carry on His ministry after His death. I can't imagine what would have happened had any of that night's supper guests refused to drink from His cup because of germs or because they bought into a theological opinion that the bread they'd just received already contained Jesus' blood.

Just do it
I suspect the about-to-die Jesus would have confronted their refusal with some form of, "It's my way or the highway!"

There's nothing wrong with surfacing the deep Jewish sacrificial significance of Jesus' shedding His blood for us. The author of Hebrews does so in Sunday's second reading (Hebrews 9:11-15).

But long before Christian authors began reflecting on that significance, they had to deal with the implications of drinking His blood. Some scholars contend that one reason we receive Jesus' body first is to give us strength to step up and receive from His cup.

Catholics obviously have a long way to go before we understand and practice signs that our ancestors in the faith took for granted.[[In-content Ad]]

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